About Us

Our church is not based on a “top-down” model in which the minister tells everyone what to believe, rather it calls upon each person to develop their own core beliefs from scripture, sermons, study, music, prayer, and reflection.  Individual members have “the full liberty of conscience interpreting the Gospel” (The Art and Practice of the Congregational Way).  Church members are trusted to interpret the Bible and apply it as they best understand it and accept that others may have a different interpretation or view. 

Value Proposition/Mission

"Like a lighthouse, this church beckons to all spiritual seekers to be more like Jesus."

Light Up Your Life

Our Covenant

Found In Our Church's Bylaws

We are united in striving to know the will of God as taught in Holy Scriptures,
and in our purpose to walk in the ways of the Lord,
made known or to be made known to us.

We hold it to be the mission of the Church to proclaim the gospel to all humanity,
Exalting the worship of one true God, and laboring for the progress of knowledge,
the promotion of justice, the reign of peace, and the realization of human brotherhood and sisterhood.

Depending, as did our ancestors, upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us to all truth,
We work and pray for the transformation of the world into the kingdom of God;
We look with faith for the triumph of righteousness and life everlasting.


Our Staff

Rev. Joy Baumgartner

Senior Minister

A graduate of Chicago Theological Seminary, Joy has served churches for almost thirty years in Illinois, Michigan, Florida, Massachusetts, and now Beloit.  Loving the Congregational Way, Joy is committed to serve the church as a Servant of God’s people. Her ministry is marked by insightful sermons,  a caring pastoral presence , and a very positive personality.

email: joyannbrev@gmail.com  

Rev. Gene Van Galder

Associate Minister

Gene has served as minister for over 30 years at Afton Community Church, Beloit’s Second Congregational Church, Beloit’s First Baptist Church and now at First Congregational Church.  The verse “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Dt. 26.16) reflects the positive nature of his ministry and belief in the goodness of God and humankind.

email: gvangalder@yahoo.com

Max Yount

Director Of Music

Max Yount is a former Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Beloit College. He is an accomplished concert musician at the organ and harpsichord and divides his time between concerts and service as the church’s Director of Music.

email: maxyount@gmail.com

Robin Prestil

Administrative Assitant

Robin serves as the Administrative Assistant. She was formerly in the home health care profession and is a very active volunteer in many organizations. She is deeply committed to our church and manages a variety of tasks in an effective and caring way.

email: info@firstcon.org

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Etta Patten

Cleaning Custodian

Richard Wanninger

Maintenance Custodian


A major tenet of the Congregational Church is the autonomy of each church. The very name Congregational clearly spells out that all decisions within the life of the church are made by the congregation. There is no higher ecclesiastical organization directing the local church. We do however, covenant with the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches and the Wisconsin Conference of Congregational Churches.
The Church Council, which is made up of nine members with specific areas of responsibility, govern the church. Major decisions are brought before the congregation for a vote.

Gathering Since 1838

Brief History

The New England Emigrating Company which founded Beloit brought with them their Congregational faith. In 1838, ten years before Wisconsin became a state, the First Congregational Church was gathered. The first edifice called the Old Stone Church was located on the corner of Prospect and Broad streets. The founding convention of Beloit College was held in that edifice. The congregational outgrew the building and so construction began at our present site. The meeting house was based on the traditional style found in New England and Lucius Bradley served as the architect. The seating capacity was 1,200, which was large enough to host the graduation exercises of Beloit College. The building was dedicated on July 6, 1862 (in the midst of America’s Civil War). The remarkably beautiful edifice served its congregations for 136 years until in August, 1998 a bolt of lightning started a fire that destroyed it. Like the Phoenix rising, our current meeting house was constructed on the same site and dedicated on October 13, 2001. 

A congregation however is not a building but rather the people who make it up. The church has a long history of service to God and the community. The church has hosted national and state Congregational conventions. Our close association with Beloit College continues with students sharing their musical talents in our choir. Many missions have and continue to be nurtured by the church. The church hosts Musica Maxima that include numerous musical concerts and gatherings. The Society for Learning Unlimited (lectures for retired people) holds their classes in our multi-purpose room. This is an active congregation, proud of long history but most importantly excited to be modern day Pilgrims serving God and humankind.